Rio Grande Valley, Texas

The Rio Grande Valley has an estimated population of 1,368,723 as of 2020, with Hidalgo County having the largest population of 861,137. Cameron County has the second-highest population with an estimate of 422,135, followed by Starr County with an estimated population of 64,032 and Willacy County with an estimated population of 21,419. Based on a report by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2008, the Hispanic population in Cameron County was 86 percent, while Hidalgo County had 90 percent, Starr County had 97 percent, and Willacy County had 86 percent. Demographic changes have also impacted Rio Grande Valley, Texas Economy

2017 United States Census American Community Survey Estimates 

CameronCounty HidalgoCounty StarrCounty WillacyCounty
Population 5 years and older 384,007 759,143 56,972 20,442
Speaks English only 102,074 119,489 2,072 8,252
Language other than English 281,933 639,654 54,900 12,190
Spanish 278,451 631,638 54,838 12,005
Other Indo-European Languages 1,302 2,126 3 155
Asian and Pacific Islander Languages 1,511 5,460 53 22
Other Languages 669 430 6 8

The Rio Grande Valley has a number of major metropolitan areas that are surrounded by smaller rural communities known as colonias. These communities are primarily inhabited by poor and Hispanic people, and often lack basic services such as sanitation, sewage, and protection from flooding. Most of the colonias consist of a mix of mobile homes and self-constructed houses that are owned by the residents. The Bracero program, which was introduced in the 1940s, allowed Mexicans to come across the border and work in the agricultural fields of the Rio Grande Valley. As there was a shortage of affordable housing in the area at that time, developers began selling land to these workers in unincorporated areas. Over time, these clusters of homes evolved into what we now know as colonias.

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